AF Maqayes Lands Group 3 Sprint Victory at Abu Dhabi

The Group 3 Al Ruwais, over 1000m, was the feature at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening and seven may have gone to post but, in reality, the only horse who ever really mattered was AF Maqayes.

Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and a three-time course and distance winner last season, this was just his fourth start over this 1000m dash and, ridden confidently by Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, he went straight to the front and never looked likely to be headed.

It was an emphatic success and first, on his fifth start of the season, for Al Maqayes who looks a pure speedster judged on this success.

“He is very fast and we have not been able to find suitable races for him this season before this one,” said O’Shea.

“He is very straightforward for a jockey because not only is he very quick, but he is also very genuine.”

Homebred by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, he was a second winner on the card for the owner who had already dominated the opening 1400m maiden with fillies trained by Ernst Oertel when they combined to supply the first two home.

However, Al Nabooda’s homebred AF Makerah, who made a bold attempt to make all under Richard Mullen on her just her second start, was headed close home by stable companion Tijaara, sporting the same colours but actually bred by the Shadwell organisation of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The winner was ridden by Antonio Fresu and was opening her account at the fourth attempt.

“To be honest, entering the straight I thought we were beaten,” said Fresu. “However, she really picked up over the final 100m and, on this evidence, will appreciate stepping up to 1600m.”
Over that 1600m, the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club Gold Cup,

which carries Prestige status, was won by the Eric Lemartinel-trained Hamza, ridden by O’Shea, initiating a personal treble for himself, for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and, basically, never headed.

Having made all, over 2000m, on his previous start, stamina was never going to be an issue and O’Shea was clearly determined to utilise the fact, going straight to the front and gradually winding up the tempo.

“I was happy to be positive on him as we know he stays further, said O’Shea. “He did it nicely enough but was, perhaps, getting a bit lonely out there in front.”

O’Shea completed a treble for himself and a double for Al Rayhi, when victorious aboard ES Fatek in a 1200m handicap.

Victorious on his previous start, just his second career outing, over 1000m on the Al Ain dirt four weeks ago, ES Fatek looks progressive.

“He is a really nice young horse and one learning all the time,” said O’Shea. “He will have learned a lot here today and hopefully can progress from this.”

The main support race was the 1600m Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1 which was turned into a procession by Omani raider Maisoor, in virtually a carbon copy of his sole previous UAE start, over the same course and distance, in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship in early November.

Homebred by the Royal Cavalry Of Oman, Maisoor is now undefeated after eight starts, six on the Doha dirt and two here at Abu Dhabi.

Trained by Said Al Badi, for whom he remains a sole UAE runner and thus boasts an unbeaten local record as a trainer, he was again ridden by his regular jockey, Anas Al Siyabi.

As was the case in November, they were just far too good for the opposition, a viewpoint fully supported by his jockey.

“He is very good, a bit special even,” said Al Siyabi. “He has been exceptional at home, in Oman, on the dirt but also proved himself just as good on turf here, twice.

“He is an exciting horse and it is great to be associated with him. He is a positive advert for racing and breeding in Oman.”

The only Thoroughbred race on the card was the concluding 1600m handicap, won by the Satish Seemar-trained Taaj who was produced late to claim the spoils by stable jockey, Richard Mullen.

“We have been enjoying a good run of form at Abu Dhabi recently and Richard gave Taaj a great ride,” said Seemar.